The Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies presents the premiere of the play “Hannah Arendt Quits Smoking” Hanna Arendt loves smoking. It is part of her intellectual process. The image of her constantly with a cigarette in hand is iconic. It is interwoven into the very idea of the European expatriate thinker in the United States after WWII. And she wants to quit. Now. So on the advice of her friend, the famed novelist Mary McCarthy, Arendt arrives at a fashionable hypnotherapist’s office on a rainy day in 1970s New York.
In “Hannah Arendt Quits Smoking,” a play by the queer playwright collective Kansas, we meet the famed political theorist at a moment of atypical and somewhat uncomfortably American self-improvement. Cigarettes straddle the old world and the new, complicating European and German Jewish identity in the face of American assimilation. But will she be successful? Can Hannah Arendt ultimately quit smoking? Taking its lead from the recent revival of Arendt on both the academic stage as well as her inescapable presence in all discussions on totalitarianism. “Hannah Arendt Quits Smoking” captures the daily challenges of the philosopher’s life – full of surprises and truth, and a journey that potentially comes full circle by giving up those addictions we most love. On November 17, 2022, the play will be premiered as a table-read.
Hannah Arendt – Prof. Rebecca Comay
Therapist – Prof. Peggy Kohn
Receptionist – Prof. Doris Bergen
Soldier – Miko Zeldes-Roth
Stage Directions – Julie Sharff
Playwrights: Miriam Chorley-Schulz
Presented by the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies and co-sponsored by the Munk School and CERES, the Intellectual Community Committee and the Wolfe Chair for Holocaust Studies of the History Department, the German Department, the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research Fund.